Photography 1 – P14 – Assignment One “The Square Mile” – Tutor Report

I was somewhat disheartened when I receive feedback on this first assignment. I’ve already done Drawing 1 so I’m used to critical reviews but certainly this report doused any initial enthusiasm I had for the course. Phrases such as “a few good images” does not make me want to rush out with my camera immediately. I have chosen not to publish my comments which I sent back to my tutor. Here is part of his email back:

“There is really no reason to be disheartened. I have pointed out certain positives in your work and it is not at all a bad starting point for this course but as your tutor I have to be critical and point out what can be improved.

“Learning photography is a long process and you will be challenged to expand your knowledge on photography and think about your work in a critical but constructive way. During this journey it is important to reflect upon the  feedback you receive and take on the advice even if sometimes you don’t agree with it. You will also be faced with feedback from various tutors in the future and they will have different things to say about your work, which will help you to take on new ideas and develop your voice as a photographer.”

Here is the original tutor report:

“Overall Comments

You have made a few good images in this assignment and you attempted to create a coherent series of images about your immediate surrounding which is good. Although in the brief you where asked not to use up too much time on this first assignment it seems that this work was very rushed and it would have benefited from giving it a bit more time and re-visiting the site several more times.

Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

The first image ‘Doffcocker Lodge’ you used as a title (establishing shot) for the project but apart from the name of the reserve it doesn’t have much going on. It would have been much more interesting if the sign was placed within a wider context and was just one out of a few elements that created the composition.

You shot the second image ‘An Early Morning Stretch’ in the right moment and cropped it well.

The third image ‘Me and My Shadow’ is composed well and you where able to capture them when their bodies where positioned ideally from the perspective of the camera. I also like the diagonal line of the shore and the water, which places the geese in to their natural environment.

The ‘Jogger’ image is composed well but appears to be quite flat. If you shot it in the early morning or late afternoon hours the light quality would have significantly improved the image. This type of light produces less contrast, reducing the chances of losing parts of your subject in strong shadows or blown-out highlights. The warm glow adds a pleasing feel to the scene, and the long shadows help to pick out details, adding texture and depth to the image.

The images ‘5 and 6 Autumn Cobweb 1 and 2’ are both very good. I like the first one a bit more because the triangle shape that the cobweb created makes the image less conventional. The lighting is very good, the composition is good and you made a good choice to use a shallow depth of field. I don’t think the dark area in the background is a distraction.

However the ‘I may be small but I’m still a fun guy’ image does not work as well since the fungi are out of focus and it is not very clear what the viewer should be looking at. I would also avoid titles such as this since it does not add any additional meaning to the image.

The ‘Silhouettes’ image’s most interesting element is the bottom left corner because the leaves are different and out of focus that creates a depth to the image that otherwise would not be there.

The composition and the focus are good on the ‘Warble Warble’ image. It is a very conventional image of a bird on a tree but technically you have shot it well. By the shallow depth of field that is focused on the bird you have directed the viewer to the bird, which makes this image good.

The last three image are all problematic. The images no.10 and no.11 are both shot from too far and the surroundings of the images are dull just as the lighting conditions. Also the titles are very literal and don’t leave the viewer with any space for their own interpretation.

The composition of the ‘The Big Sky’ image is also too basic. The elements on this image (the sky and the trees) are simply not gripping enough to make the image strong. The entire composition is problematic since the sky takes up too much of the image.

Overall you have a few good images but there is space for improvement. The subject required to be re-visited several times. By doing so you would immerse yourself more with the subject and discover that you are making images of subjects and scenes that you didn’t notice on your first visits. Also if you had shot the entire series during early mornings and late afternoons it would have been significantly improved.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays Context

Apart from your assignments and thoughts relating to it you need to evidence your research in a bit more depth. You need to reflect a bit more on your reading and the photographers that you are researching. Generally it is meant to evidence your thought process and progress. Apart from that it is on the right track. It is easy to navigate and well organized.

Suggested reading/viewing Context

For your research, apart from the photographers that are mentioned in the course module, look at the work of William Egleston. As seemingly casual and sometimes chaotic his documentary appears to be, it is very carefully composed in a manner that was unique in his time and has influenced many photographers until today. His work is autobiographical in terms of the areas that he photographed and it is very rich in expressive content.

Pointers for the next assignment

Work through all the exercises of part one and research the mentioned photographers. Try to incorporate some the advice that you received from this report regarding composition and lighting. Once you have completed them, e-mail me a link to your blog. We will then have an informal chat via e-mail about your progress and about things to consider for your next assignment.

Good luck!”


About notes to the milkman

I'm a printmaker based in the North West of England, living in Bolton and printing at Hot Bed Press in Salford. Please visit my website
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4 Responses to Photography 1 – P14 – Assignment One “The Square Mile” – Tutor Report

  1. janecrathern says:

    Lots of positives in the feedback – which you’ll focus on more in time if you’re like me! I’ve recently gone through a similar disheartened stage. I’ve come to the conclusion tutors are a very varied bunch. Some write in a critical but encouraging style, others critical and discouraging – but the criticisms are nonetheless helpful if you can disregard the style of writing! Good luck with the next assignment!

  2. Thanks for your comments, Jane. With Drawing 1, I was well into Unit 2 (Colouring in Cabbages as I called it) before getting disheartened. I battled though the unit eventually before getting to the really enjoyable bit – drawing outside, particularly buildings, which I loved. It’s just getting disheartened right at the beginning that I’m concerned about.

  3. coolquilting says:

    I think there are a lot of positives in the tutor’s words!! Love the early morning stretch photo.

  4. Hi I’m also on EYV , I got my tutor report back a couple of weeks ago. I think your tutor has given you a good starting point and now you have a path to follow. Like a checklist for the photos he wants and what he looks for in each one . My report wasn’t as descriptive so I’m fumbling along, winging it so to speak. The ‘fun guy’ title made me laugh !

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